Tuesday, April 28, 2015         

Hawaii's Backyard Premium

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At this year's 23rd annual Celebration of the Arts, Clifford Naeole will be asking attendees to "I na … Imagine."

Rex Kamakana loves the adrenaline rush of rodeo. His pani­olo (cowboy) roots go back more than a century; his great-grandfathers James Tooaha and William Kama­kana were two of the first 10 cowboys hired by Molokai Ranch in 1908.

Robert Loera is crazy about kites. The owner of three Maui Toy Works stores is a kite master who has won national championships and attended kite festivals across the globe, including in China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand.

Ben Moffat's dream 20 years ago was at once strange and delightful. "I saw a village where art was everywhere, even in surprising places like a cafeteria," said the retired Windward Community College professor of theater.

Ryan Conching jokes that Aloha Food Tours got its start because of his lack of skills in the kitchen. "I'm not a great cook; that's why you won't find me by the stove very often," he said.

Although the Makawao History Museum measures just 353 square feet — the size of an average living room — it covers several decades of Upcountry Maui history.

Teriimana Moo grew up dancing to Tahitian music along with the hits of Madonna and Michael Jackson. His dad, who was born in Tahiti, brought his love for music and dance when he immigrated to Hawaii with his parents in 1962.

Outrigger canoe races; stand-up paddling competitions; Hawaiian games, music and dance — the Duke Kaha­na­moku Beach Challenge is a celebration its namesake would have loved.

In the gifted hands of John Mydock, blocks of rigid wood are transformed into art that curves, bends and even seems to shine like glass. The renowned Hawaii island artist uses the painstaking processes of pyrography and pearlizing to embellish his vessels.

Colin Hazama remembers making faces when he was handed the children's menu at restaurants; even as a young boy, he had a sophisticated palate. "I wanted to order things off the adult menu that most kids my age wouldn't eat," he said.

As a young boy, Marvin Shim remembers helping his parents ready their house for Chinese New Year. Cleaning went on for a week. Every room was thoroughly vacuumed; every item was polished, wiped or scrubbed.

Pacific Whale Foundation researchers had been out on the water since early morning that memorable winter day in 2006 and were about to head back to the harbor when five younger humpbacks appeared.

Clear, sunny, windless — conditions were perfect at Hana­lei Bay that day in 1999 when Vincent Tylor took what he calls "one of my first ‘wow' pictures." He snapped several shots of a hammock strung between two palms on the shore.

Stones speak to Nanette Napoleon. A tombstone, she points out, can be a revealing snapshot of the deceased's life, sometimes providing information that's not documented elsewhere.

The porch of the Volcano Art Center in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is the kind of comfortable, homey place that would be great for a gathering with friends and family to relax and "talk story."

Julie Kanealii didn't know much about makahiki until 1991 when she saw a video of a Molokai event that revived that Hawaiian observance. "Everyone was having fun playing the ancient games of the ancestors, and it was obvious the community spirit was strong."

Big changes are coming to little Lanai. Yes, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is likely to close midyear to finish renovations. And, yes, the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele won't be taking bookings most of this year because it will be housing construction workers.

Nine-hundred-pound Pickles is as cute and friendly as a puppy. The 5-year-old Jersey cow is the mascot of Naked Cow Dairy Farm & Creamery, the only dairy on Oahu and one of just three in Hawaii (the other two are on Hawaii island).

Taking a break on an escort boat during a canoe race in 1999, paddler Nancy Gove noticed crystals of sea salt sparkling on her arm. "I remember tasting them and thinking, ‘Mmmmm, that's really good,'" she recalled.

Approximately 1,600 treasures from India, Asia, Southeast Asia and the islands of the Pacific adorn the lobby, corridors and courtyards of Hawaii island's Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, the grande dame of Hawaii resorts.

In 2011, the first year of Maui Open Studios, Carolyn Quan, the event's founder and producer, watched as some 700 people lined up, waiting to enter Maui Tropical Plantation for the opening celebration and preview exhibition.

At Molokai's Parade of Lights, Christmas exuberance is expressed in delightfully unexpected ways. One year, a float featured a whole pig cooking on a rotisserie. Another year, spectators oohed and aahed at the menagerie on an entry.

When most people travel, they buy mugs, postcards and T-shirts for souvenirs. Lauren Rusert comes home with honey. More than 40 jars and bottles of the sweetener are lined up on a shelf in her kitchen.

The earliest memory Betsy Forrest Robb has of being in an art museum is lying on her stomach, painting during a class in the Impressionist gallery of the John Herron Art Institute (now the Indianapolis Museum of Art).

The 100-square-foot lanai of Ruby Makuch's home in Kihei, Maui, doubles as the factory for exfolicare, the soap-making company that she founded six years ago. "You need to be in a well-ventilated area when you're working with lye," she said.

"The adventure begins where the asphalt ends" is how Princeville Ranch Adventures (PRA) promotes its two new off-road tours. Karin Carswell Guest, who owns the company with her husband, Jeff, found that was indeed the case in February.

The tale of the $20,000 orchid begins in Thailand. On a visit there in 1984 to find new species for his family's nursery on Hawaii island, Mori­yasu Aka­tsuka purchased plants that had been harvested from the wild. It took three years for him to nurse them to optimal health.

In a sense, Jeff Gere has been a storyteller most of his life. Encouraged by his mother, who was a high school drama teacher, he performed in numerous school musicals and skits at community events when he was growing up as a "beach kid" in Southern California.

In the heart of Schofield Barracks' Historic District, the museum collects, preserves, interprets and exhibits artifacts, photographs and documents that chronicle the history of Schofield Barracks.

Turtle Bay Resort is a "one-stop shop" for outdoor activities. The 840-acre oceanfront retreat is the centerpiece of a setting so spectacular it's been featured in more than 150 movies and TV shows.

For 20 years, Una Greenaway was a weekend farmer who looked forward to being outdoors at Kuaiwi Farm, her property in Captain Cook on Hawaii island, when she wasn't working a full-time job as an accountant for two nonprofit organizations.

The wealthy winemaker from Chile strolled into Pedal Bike Tours Hawaii's Waikiki shop with his wife and two teenage daughters and booked a Hidden Honolulu tour for the following day.

Koa Kahili describes himself as a "chocolate sommelier." Ironically, the owner and founder of Garden Island Chocolate wasn't a fan of chocolate when he was growing up.

Some come for the incredible views. Others love the peace and privacy. Still others praise the breakfasts, always prepared from scratch with ingredients growing just steps from the kitchen. Holualoa Inn is among Hawaii's most memorable escapes.

The F-20 Tigershark fighter soars across a cloudless blue sky at full throttle, makes a hard left turn and descends for a smooth low pass 5 yards from where Duke Chung is standing. "Looks pretty good," says the 48-year-old pilot.

Many fine-dining restaurants in Hawaii offer spectacular views. The Star of Hono­lulu's Five Star Sunset Dining & Jazz Cruise is a fine-dining experience that puts guests in a spectacular view.

When something piques Laryssa Kwoczak's interest, she makes a beeline for it. So it was in the fall of 2010 when she attended a festival for an urban farm in Philadelphia that had hives on the roof of a garage.

"How do you like my office?" Edwin Otsuji asks as visitors admire a panorama that stretches from Diamond Head to Maunalua Bay. "Beautiful, yeah? That's why vegetables grow so well here; they love the view."

In 1990, when his four children were on their own and he retired from a 35-year career as a submarine safety coordinator at Pearl Harbor, Jimmy Wong began checking things off his bucket list.

Psssst … wanna know a secret? The Mauian is one of the best options for a laid-back, low-key Hawaii getaway. Although the 44-room hotel was one of the first to be built on the shores of Napili Bay, it has remained pretty much under the radar.

Six days a week Guy Tama­shiro, vice president of Tama­shiro Market, rises at 4:30 a.m. to make it to Pier 38 in time for the start of the Hono­lulu Fish Auction. Tama­shiro has been the head fish buyer for his family's business for 40 years, and he knows the routine well.

There was a time when people went to gas stations to, well, buy gas. These days, their car's tank might be full, but they're pulling up near the pumps anyway to pick up everything from glue to games to great local food at on-site convenience stores.

On a visit to Hawaii island in early 2002, Greg Colden and his partner, Marty Corrigan, went on a six-hour snorkeling excursion. It was a cloudy day, and, not knowing he would be exposed to ultraviolet rays even though he wasn't in direct sunlight, Colden didn't apply sunscreen or wear a rash guard or T-shirt.

Dave Black helps visitors walk down waterfalls — backward, no less! The avid outdoorsman has nearly 50 years of climbing and rappelling experience and has literally written the book on them.

Few people talk about their workplace with as much pride and passion as Kauai County Council Chairman Jay Furfaro. The Historic County Building houses the offices of the seven-member Kauai County Council, the county clerk and the Kauai Historical Society.

Anyone who was born and raised in Hawaii might find it hard to imagine that Dotty Kelly-Paddock didn't see an ocean until she was 19 years old. "I grew up in Indiana, where there was lots of corn but no ocean," said the longtime Hau­ula resident.

So seriously does Gigi Gaea take her career as a "GastroPreneur," she printed that title on her business card. "I coined the word when I started Hawaii Tasting Tours," Gaea said.

Horticulturist Norman Bezona might have written those words, so grateful is he for the joy and serenity that fills his soul whenever he spends time among plants, flowers and trees.

Loretta Yajima remembers a time two decades ago when people thought she was crazy. Turn the old Hono­lulu incinerator into a children's museum? Ridiculous! It couldn't be done.

EVERY so often, in the midst of his busy workday, Clifford Nae­ole receives a "call from my gut" that directs him to a place of peace and tranquility: the Hono­ka­hua Preservation Site on the grounds of The Ritz-Carlton, Kapa­lua.

With that brief introduction, Michael Gilbert sums up his Outdoor Photography: Light, Composition & Gesture class: The key to photography is not mastering sophisticated equipment; it's being aware of your surroundings and responding to them.

Karen Lockwood met her husband, Andrew, in 1995, when they were students at Amherst College in Massachusetts. He was from Hawaii; she was from California. Both were new to New England and wanted to explore it together.

Maile Meyer grew up during the 1960s and 1970s — a time, as she puts it, when "a good Hawaiian was someone who wanted to be American. It was very difficult to find opportunities to study Hawaiian culture and history in school. Kupuna (elders) had the knowledge [...]"

Green is not only Holly Algood's favorite color, it's her way of life. She and her business and life partner, Eila Algood, live off the grid in rural Hawi on Hawaii island, creating their own energy with wind and solar.

It doesn't have an ocean view, there's not a palm tree in sight and instead of swimsuits, guests are likely to be dressed in sweaters. Still, Volcano House, just a quarter-mile past the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is one of the most talked-about hotels in Hawaii.

When staffers at the restored 19th-century sugar plantation were brainstorming ideas for a benefit, they recalled the good times they always had at carnivals. They thought the museum's expansive front lawn would be the perfect setting for an old-fashioned fair.

Ted Clement's first job after graduating from college in 1991 was working as an environmental educator for the Outward Bound School in Maine. A longtime outdoor enthusiast with a Bachelor of Science degree, he led high school and college students on expeditions ranging from about three weeks to three months.

The note Roy Sakuma received in December was the most touching he had received in his 40-plus years as a champion of the ukulele: "Aloha, my name is Kailani," the emailed message began.

At Travaasa Hana guests can have their cake and eat it, too. On one hand, the rural hamlet of Hana provides the perfect setting for a low-key, laid-back escape. On the other, they can enjoy all the amenities of a luxury resort, from fine dining to a full-service spa.

Even with a magnifying glass, the visitors could barely spot the unusual spider — just a quarter of an inch long — that was resting on a kawau (native holly) leaf in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Memorable stories are shared every year at Whale Tales. The eighth annual event will feature presentations by world-renowned whale experts who will provide commentary and mingle with guests on two-hour cruises along the coast of West Maui.

Growing up in then-sleepy Kona in the '60 and early '70s, Marcia Timboy was immersed in the best of Hawaiian music. Timboy is the coordinator for HMH's second annual Ke Ala o ka Hua Mele, which explores the evolution of Hawaiian music, from pre-contact Hawaii to today.

Nat Bletter and Dave Elliott are savoring the sweet success of Madre Chocolate. In just three years they've made their company one of Hawaii's go-to sources for all things chocolate.

As a student of kumu hula Keala Ching, Julie Lyle has learned Hawaiian history, values and practical skills such as making implements, costumes and adornments from bamboo, ti leaves, bottle gourds and other natural materials.

Lincoln Jacobe believes discovering new things is the spice of life. "It makes life fun, interesting and exciting," said the chief executive officer of Hawaii Pacific Entertainment, a Hono­lulu-based media, communications and entertainment company.

When visitors enter the Hawaii Plantation Museum, they see a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling hodgepodge of things, which, at first glance, looks like the staging area for a giant garage sale. Wayne Subica sees treasures.

"THE QUEEN inspires me daily. To me, she is a model of grace, forgiveness, compassion and loyalty to her people — not just Hawaiians but everyone in her kingdom who respected the values and traditions of the Hawaiians. I am a royalist; I hold dual citizenship in my heart."

As legend goes, a submerged cave along Molokai's northwest coast was the source of a stony sponge valued for its medicinal properties.

Over the past 35 years, Colleen Edwards has taken numerous classes in her quest to bring out what she calls her "inner artist.

In the Hawaiian forest, birds converse in soft, sweet sonnets. Fronds bend and sway in response to the whispers of the wind. The sound of gently falling rain soothes the soul like a lullaby. Here, amid the peace and verdant finery of nature, Volcano Village Lodge lures guests away from the hubbub of everyday life.

When Abby Stankiewicz turned 10, she received riding lessons at a small equestrian center in her hometown of Cincinnati. "The first time I got on a horse, I was hooked," said the 24-year-old Wahiawa resident, who has trained with Olympic equestrians.

That morning off Maalaea Harbor in January 2007 was definitely not the best time to be on the ocean.

Chisels on linoleum, hands on potter's wheels, paintbrushes on canvases — stop by the Donkey Mill Art Center on any given day and you'll see creativity percolating along with an ever-present pot of Kona coffee.

While he was on abusiness trip to Newport Beach in late 2008, Bill Countryman, general manager of the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, heard about a promotion that the city's restaurant association was sponsoring to showcase its wide range of dining options.

Sandi Alstrand's introduction to lilikoi was love at first bite. Before she and her husband moved to Hawaii island from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002, they vacationed there for two weeks to confirm they wanted to make that big of a lifestyle change.

Before he took the helm as executive director of Hawaii's Plantation Village eight years ago, Jeff Higa had not had any supernatural experiences, nor did he believe in them.

Although Haunani Hopkins was trained as a database analyst, she was meant to touch lives in her life's work rather than a computer keyboard.

Sun, soil, rain and beneficial insects — nature is Taka Ino's primary partner in what he calls "the joy of growing tea.

In 1990, when Lynn Muramoto and her husband first came to the 32-acre site in Lawai Valley that is now the Lawai International Center, it was so overgrown, they had to use chain saws to cut a path so they could drive in. It took more clearing of thick jungle for them to catch a glimpse of the 88 shrines lining a winding path on the hill above them.

Last year, as Kani Blackwell was thanking students and teachers for attending the School Outreach Program that the Kauai Powwow Council pre­sents annually at Lydgate Beach Park, she felt a tug at her sleeve.

In ancient times, dryland forests blanketed the leeward sides of all the Hawaiian Islands, from mountain slopes to the coasts. The forests were home to hundreds of species of native birds, insects, trees, shrubs, ferns and herbaceous plants — many of which couldn't be found anywhere else in the world.

For me, hula has always been … " There's no need for Hokulani Holt to say anything else. Those few simple but powerful words clearly communicate the important role the Hawaiian dance has played in her life.

Jeff Bagshaw's first visit to Haleakala National Park was a "light bulb experience." On that 1988 hiking and camping trip with his college group from Washington state, he saw more endangered wildlife in three days than he had in months on the mainland.

As a child, Troy Keolanui spent many summers with his maternal grandparents in rural Boring, Ore., 20 miles from Portland. One of his favorite pastimes was picking blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries at neighboring farms.

Home of Maui's alii, capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, rest stop for whaling ships, missionary headquarters, plantation town, popular visitor destination — "there are so many layers to Lahaina's story, from ancient times to the present," said Theo Morrison, executive director of the nonprofit Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

Jerry Konanui delights in telling the story of Lihi­lihi­mo­lina, a variety of Hawaiian kalo, or taro, that was once considered lost. Its name refers to the curve of eyelashes and a crescent moon.

Next weekend, 88-year-old Leilani Alama and her sister Pua­nani, 83, will be among the dancers at the Na Hula Festival just as they have been every year since the event's inception in 1941.

IT WAS like flying on the ocean! You felt the sun, wind and salt spray on your face. Everyone was in sync — like we were moving as one body." Eleven years have passed since Isaac Lau raced with his Hawaii Dragon Boat Festival team, but he can describe it as clearly as if it were yesterday.

When Bob Stanga explains how he went from being the owner and pilot of a helicopter company to growing mushrooms, he jokes that he wanted to become a more "grounded" person.

On their first trip to Lanai in November 2008, Lisa Grove and her husband, Stephen, knew they had found home. Avid outdoorsmen, they spent five days hiking, biking, snorkeling and swimming in quiet, beautiful spots they often had all to themselves. It was the perfect playground.

Tim Lara's love affair with the ocean began 30 years ago, when he was in elementary school in Key West, Fla. "The ocean was my family's playground," recalled the owner and operations manager of Maui-based Hawaiian Paddle Sports.

Comfort. Convenience. Quiet. Quality. When longtime hospitality executive Paul Horner travels, those are the features he looks for in accommodations.

Alesia Cloutier heads a company that offers two Oahu walking tours revolving around food. Launched in September, the three-hour Kailua Food Tour is set in the scenic suburb where she was born and raised.

When Shay Smith's family gets together, no matter whose house the party is at, the busiest spot is the bar. "Everyone bring ingredients and plays mixologist," Smith said. "We all try and outdo each other. In fact, that's how most of the recipes for Ocean Vodka's specialty cocktails came to be."

As a college student in Reno, Nev., 20 years ago, Amanda Kaaha­nui knew she loved nature and wanted to help protect it. Through a part-time volunteer job, she realized she didn't have to earn a Ph.D. in environmental science or go on expeditions in remote regions to do that.

A decade ago Brian Ross read a magazine article that described Allerton and McBryde gardens as a "living encyclopedia" of tropical plants and trees from around the world, many of them rare and endangered.

When Marilyn Jansen Lopes and her husband, Ricky, bought a used eight-passenger van at an auction in 2009, they intended to use it as an RV for camping and cruising. Little did they know it would inspire a business that draws people from all over the world.

Lea Uehara doesn't sing, dance or play an instrument. But she does love music, and she knows Hawaii's dynamic music industry inside out.

Through her writing assignments, Marta Lane befriended many movers and shakers in Kauai's food industry. A Taste of Old Kauai is the result of one of the valuable relationships Lane has fostered.

Hawaii residents love Spam. In fact, we eat nearly 7 million cans of the versatile luncheon meat every year — more than any other state in America.

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